Pakistan is totally reliant on the surface and groundwater resources of the Indus Basin to support food, energy and economic security. Pakistan faces some significant challenges with more than 40% of the population malnourished, the number of people impacted by this is increasing with a rapidly growing population. These issues are exacerbated by unsustainable use of groundwater, changes in the seasonality of inflows, and limited storage (30 days of use). On this basis the Indus Basin is one of the most vulnerable river basins in Asia.
Pakistan and Australia have a long history of working together and the similarities between the Indus and the Murray-Darling Basin provide a foundation for a strong water partnership. Building on this foundation, the Australian government through its Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) is helping Pakistan implement Australian water resource management technologies, and building local capacity in integrated water resources management and impact assessment. The project is led by CSIRO as part of a 12 year program funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and CSIRO.
With limited storage, predictions of water availability for the coming irrigation season are important for the equitable and efficient delivery of water throughout the Indus system in Pakistan. SDIP is helping Pakistan to make better predictions of future seasonal inflows. SDIP is also assisting Pakistan to build a modelling framework that considers the interaction between surface and groundwater resources. When completed the framework will help Pakistan in understanding the impacts of climate, management interventions and infrastructure development on water, food and energy security and the associated impacts on people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
The implementation of Australian water management technologies and associated capacity building is supporting a more productive and water secure Pakistan.
Several key tools are being developed to assess water availability, sharing and delivery:
Water management tools are linked within a framework to explore water related development scenarios for Pakistan. Scenarios of interest include:
To understand the gender impact of water governance and management decisions in Pakistan a collaborative case study at Manchar Lake was undertaken between the the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) and the CSIRO SDIP team.
Environmental degradation not only affects the biophysical world, but also people’s livelihoods and wellbeing. Manchar Lake has suffered significant environmental degradation; the work of the CSIRO SDIP team in this project provided insights into the impacts of this degradation on livelihoods, health, children and education and how this translates to gender impacts.
Some of the findings may assist in framing future research and water resource management plans.
We wish to thank and acknowledge PCRWR, Sindh Irrigation Department, Mehran University of Engineering and Technology and Australian National University as partners and advisers in this research.
More reports, fact sheets and information are available on the SDIP publications page